The Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ defense this season has done fair against several high powered offenses, to say the least. The Buccaneers are currently ranked 15th in the NFL in pass yards allowed, which is a huge step up compared to last year being ranked last. The Buccaneers completely remodeled their defensive secondary this offseason, getting players like Johnthan Banks, Dashon Goldson and, of course, Darrelle Revis. Now, the Buccaneers’ secondary cannot be compared to a team like the Seattle Seahawks, but if Banks and Mark Barron continue to grow in this league to become star players, the Bucs’ defense may be tossed into the conversation. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers’ defense has taken a minor step back from being the top rush defense last year to the ninth best, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
Even though the Buccaneers’ defense has done well thus far this season, they have still failed to win a game, and the defense could be the one to blame. In fact, in the Buccaneers’ first two games, they were leading with less than one minute to go with the defense on the field.
The first week, the Buccaneers faced off against the New York Jets; the Buccaneers hit a field goal with less than one minute in the game to take a two point lead. When the Jets had less than 40 seconds left in the game, rookie quarterback Geno Smith would run the ball for about a 15 yard gain, leaving them still out of field goal range. However, as he was going out of bounds to stop the clock, sophomore linebacker Lavonte David would hit Smith, giving himself and the Buccaneers a personal foul for 15 yards, putting the Jets into field goal range. The Jets would run the clock down to about three seconds, then lineup for a field goal and strike it to win the game. The Buccaneers’ defense was obviously the immediate one to blame for the loss.
The very next week, the Buccaneers would be in a similar situation when playing the New Orleans Saints. The Buccaneers would have a one point lead with just over one minute in the game. A Buccaneer field goal would have put them up by four and potentially win the game, but instead, they missed the field goal, bringing new life to the Saints’ offense. Quarterback Drew Brees would throw a few great passes to Jimmy Graham; the drive by the Saints seemed to be effortless. The Saints would run down the clock and hit the field goal, giving the Buccaneers another loss.
The main problem for the Buccaneers’ offense and defense is that they haven’t been able to finish the game the right way.
Last week, quarterback Michael Vick suffered from a hamstring injury, and this week, the Philadelphia Eagles are uncertain if he will be able to play. The Buccaneers’defense will have a much easier day if Vick does not play, because it potentially takes away a third of the Eagles’ offense.
Vick is a massive threat on the field; he and Lesean McCoy have been nearly unstoppable this season when running the read option (the read option is a designed run in which the quarterback can either hand the ball off to the runningback or keep it himself, depending on where the defensive end attacks). This play has been run countless times by the Eagles each game, and most teams have struggled to stop it. If quarterback Nick Foles starts this Sunday, you can be certain that the read option will be a limited play, due to Foles’ lack of speed.
Another player on the Eagles that should be a concern for the Buccaneers is receiver Desean Jackson. This season, Jackson has 28 receptions with three touchdowns. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the NFL today, making him a vertical threat to all defenses. However, Buccaneers fans should be relieved that Revis should be covering him the majority of the game. Luckily, Revis has played a healthy season thus far with no signs of a recurring knee problem after his ACL tear last season.
If the Buccaneers are going to win this game, the defense is going to have shut down the Eagles’ offense. If the Buccaneers can hurt the Eagles’ offense early, they may lose their confidence. If the defense can do this and the offense can get a few touchdowns on the board, the Buccaneers might finally be able to get their first win of the season.
John Beauchamp is a multi-sport writer for Rant Sports; email any questions, comments, or concerns to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter @John_Beauchamp_, or just add him to your network on Google